Grounding of Boeing jet complicates United's 2020 planning

The grounding of Boeing's top-selling jet is making it harder for airlines that use the plane to plan for next year

CHICAGO -- The grounding of Boeing 737 Max airplanes is making it harder for United Airlines to plan for next year.

United Chief Financial Officer Gerry Laderman told analysts on a conference call Wednesday that they can assume that United won't get all the Max jets it was expecting from Boeing through next year.

Executives said the airline will grow at a slightly slower pace than it planned next year as a result.

United expected to have 30 Max jets in its fleet by now and to receive another 28 next year. But the plane has been grounded since March after deadly accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and Boeing suspended deliveries.

It is unclear when the Max will fly again. Boeing is still working on flight-control software that erroneously pushed the noses of the two accident planes down; pilots were unable to regain control.

United has nearly 800 planes in its fleet, not counting smaller jets used by United Express. The Chicago-based airline recently agreed to buy 19 used Boeing 737s, but Laderman said that was unrelated to the loss of the Max planes.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. reported after the market closed Tuesday that its second-quarter profit rose 54% to $1.05 billion. On Wednesday, its shares rose 86 cents to $94.78.